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Jewel Cave National Monument in the Black Hills of South Dakota

Jewel Cave National Monument

From Jewel Caves discovery in 1900 until today, it has continued to inspire visitors with calcite crystal-lined passages and rooms decorated with speleothems (cave formations). President Theodore Roosevelt declared Jewel Cave a National Monument on February 7, 1908. With more than 133 miles surveyed, Jewel Cave is recognized as the second longest cave in the world. Airflow within its passages indicates a vast area yet to be explored. Come take a tour and learn for yourself about the wonders of Jewel Cave and why it is important to preserve it.

Scenic Tour-Offered year-round

The tour provides an opportunity to visit chambers decorated with calcite crystals and other speleothems, while walking on a paved trail. You will enter and leave the cave by elevator from the visitor center. This tour is considered moderately strenuous. It is a 1/2 mile loop that includes 723 stairs scattered throughout the loop. It lasts approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes. This tour is offered year-round. The visitor center phone number is 1-605-673-2288, ext. 0 if you want additional information.

Jewel Cave Discovery - Offered year-round

This talk is an introduction to Jewel Cave. Participants view one large room of the cave and go up and down fifteen stairs.

Lantern Tour-Offered seasonally early June through early September


The Lantern Tour is a 1930s-style adventure. Visitors enter and leave through the historic entrance and view the cave from an unpaved trail. This tour is considered strenuous. The tour route is approximately 1/2 mile long, and includes steep wooden steps. The only light is provided by a lantern each visitor carries. There is bending and stooping as you work your way through passages to the Dungeon or Heavenly Room. The tour lasts approximately 1-3/4 hours. Participants must be at least 6 years old. There is a limit of 20 persons on each tour. Tickets are sold on a first come, first served basis. This tour is offered early June through Labor Day. Tickets for the Lantern Tour must be purchased or picked up at the visitor center.

Spelunking Tour - tours to resume in June 2006

With hard hat in place and headlamp turned on you are ready to experience the cave in its natural state. Feel the wind at Hurricane Corner, ascend Martha's Kettle, crawl through the Roller Coaster and squeeze into the Brain Drain. Participants scramble over cave "breakdown," chimney between cave walls, use a handline to climb a nearly vertical wall, and belly-crawl through tight passages. The cavers visit 2/3 mile of cave, and learn about low-impact caving, caving techniques and safety. The tour lasts 3-4 hours and is extremely strenuous. Anyone having a fear of closed spaces or heights should not attempt this tour.

Participant must be 16 year of age or older. All participants are required to provide proof of age, upon request. A parent or legal guardian is required to sign, on the day of the tour, a waiver of responsibility for any 16 or 17-year-old participants and should remain at the monument throughout the duration of the tour. Participants must be in good physical condition and are required to pass through an 8-1/2 inch by 24-inch crawl space before beginning the tour. Refunds are not given for those visitors unable to negotiate the block. This tour is offered early June through mid-August.

The monument provides a hard hat and headlamp to each participant.

The participant provides: sturdy, above ankle, rubber-soled, lug-soled, lace-up boots, long pants or coveralls, and a long-sleeved shirt, a change of clothing, shoes, and a plastic bag for carrying soiled clothes and boots from the visitor center after the tour. Gloves, soft knee pads and elbow pads are required and must be provided by the participant. Clean clothes and shoes must be brought to the visitor center when you check in for the tour.

Clothing and footwear will be permanently stained by black manganese deposits encountered during this tour.

Reservations are required and can be made up to one month in advance by calling 1-605-673-2288, ext. 0. This tours can sell out. Tour size is limited to a minimum of 2 visitors and maximum of 5 visitors. Tours may be canceled due to lack of the required number of participants or due to emergencies at the Monument. For more information on this tour you may call the visitor center at 1-605-673-2288, ext. 0. The fee is $27.00. Golden Age and Golden Access Passport holders receive a discount of 50% off the cave tour ticket price. The National Parks Pass is not valid for Spelunking Cave Tour fees.

For Tour Information, Schedules & Rates Visiting Jewel Cave National Monument

Badlands National Park ] Bear Butte State Park ] Black Hills National Forest ] Crazy Horse Memorial ] Devils Tower National Monument ] Custer State Park ] [ Jewel Cave National Monument ] Mount Rushmore National Memorial ] Wind Cave National Park ] Scenic Byways - Peter Norbeck ] Scenic Byways - Spearfish Canyon ]

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Revised: 08/24/2006